Reunited & It Feels So Good

Reunited & It Feels So Good

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Collectors Marketplace Comic & Toy Mall

While on a too short trip to Phoneix, AZ, I accidentally stumbled onto a very unusual mall, the Collectors Market Place Comic & Toy Mall.  Their Slogan is " the convention that never ends..."  The mall is composed of (at this time) 14 permanent dealers/tenants.  However, according to the owner, Neal Kotler, "the real magic happens on Saturdays."  The mall is open Wednesdays-Saturdays.  However they host a toy show each Saturday that includes the 14 permanent dealers and an additional 30 or so tables.  Casey Goslin shared that it is not uncommon to have 500+ toy collectors stop by on any given Saturday. On Wednesday 13 & Thursday, November 14, 2013 I interviewed several dealers about the mall and the hobby.  They included; John Leski (Toy Wizard Toys), Neal Kotler (Collectors Market Place, Casey Goslin (Collectors Market Place), Mike Bergstrom (Toy Anxiety), & Grey Rodgers (GI Joe vs. Transformers.)

Grey: How did the store come together?
Neal: The store is loosely modeled after a store in Los Angels called Frank and Sons
Casey: Neal is a third generation antiques dealer who opened his first store in 1989. Eventually he ran a monthly show at a local high school, Deer Valley Springs.
John: Eventually Neal rented a space from a closed Blockbuster video where we hosted a show every Saturday in 2010. 
Neal: After two more moves, we moved to our current space this past March 2013. The store has 7000 square feet, and we currently have 14 permanent dealers.
Casey: Aside from being open 4 days a week and our Saturday shows, we have Friday Night Magic, Thursday's are Dr. Who night.  We have a GI Joe club, Transformers club, and a monthly Anime Con with Cos Play.  In addition we support community outreach and toy drives.  

Grey: What is it like having that many dealers under one roof?
Neal: Aside from myself and Mike, most of the dealers have other full time jobs.  For the most part the drama is minimal. It's not uncommon for a dealer to recommend another dealer to a customer who can't find what their looking for.

While inquiring about a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Neal referred me to John, who referred me to another dealer.  Had I been able to attend the next Saturday, someone would have found me some version of the toy for me.

Grey: How long have you been a dealer?
Neal: I ran my own shop from 1989 until the mid 2000's. I have traveled all over the country buying toys including all of the big Comic Cons, and what used to be before EBay, the premiere Toy Show, Kane County Chicago Toy show.

Mike: I began working at Toy Anxiety in 1995, and purchased the store two years later. Toy Anxiety has two locations including their main store at , and a presence in the Collectors Market Place.

Grey: Are you a collector, if so what do you collect?
Casey: I'm the He-Man guy.
Mike: 1st generation Transformers, X-Men, and things with wings.
Grey R.: GI Joe, but don't tell the Transformers guys!
Neal: The best of everything comics, toys, and video games. I love vintage toys.

Grey: What's the coolest item you've seen come into the store?
Neal: My favorite piece is original Charles Schultz Peanuts art work, but I did just buy a mint Major Matt Mason Space toy.
Mike: A custom Boba Fett Predator. 
Casey: a 1960's radio that pops out into a gun, it was one of the first generation spy toys.

Grey: What are some of the more interesting items in the store right now?




Grey: How have shows like Toy Hunter and Comic Book Men impacted the hobby?
Neal: I think that the shows have perpetuated stereotypes in the hobby.  We have been contacted by the producers of Toy Hunter several time, and I've told them no each time.  They wanted to set up a scenario of Jordan buying a collection in our store. 
Mike: I think that Toy Hunter is a misrepresentation of the market, and then a customer thinks that their toy is worth $$ because they saw the same toy on the show, they leave disappointed. 
Casey: The shows have given our customers a false sense of value. 

Grey: What current trends are you seeing in the hobby?
Grey R: I think that the collector is evolving.  The completest mentality is fading out.  Many collectors are consolidating their collections.  Subsequently, I have laid out my Transformer displays as high end modern, high end collector, and children's toys.
Mike: EBay has made significant changes in the market.  (Mike has an additional store called Toy Anxiety in addition to a booth in the mall) I only sell my "good stuff" in my brick and mortar stores.
Neal: This might surprise you, as loose toys out sell the packaged toys.  The margin of value between loose and packaged toys is closing.  I would much rather sell to a collector than an investor.  Modern collectors seem to be more interested in fads and the older collector's are more educated about their hobby.

The store is located 1945 E Indian School Rd Phoenix, AZ 85016.  Neal is quite proud of the store and the store concept.  They have been featured on local television 12 times this year, and they were a New Times Best of Phoenix in 2013.  As I was about to leave after my second trip, Casey shared with me a fun story.  A customer looking for He-Man toys was referred to him, and after a discussion about rare toys, the customer turned out to be Mark Ellis, the He-Man Executive Director of Marketing.  After some good customer service, Casey shared that Mark gave him a 1982 He-Man Power Sword letter opener that was only made available to share holder.  The photo is published with permission by Casey.

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